The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

8:29 PM

Food of the Day - The Divine Truffle

Posted by Food Pear-ings

The Divine Truffle

Truffled Mac n Cheese with Shitaki Shrooms and Spelt Egg Noodles-Recipe 


Today is a special day at The Ardent Epicure
We are two months old today and this is our one hundred  fiftieth post
Currently we have readers in over thirty countries across the world
In honor of today we would like to post an article on our most beloved food, the truffle!


Truffles - a treasure in the soil
Truffles are a delicious fungus that grows underground near treas, often in damp areas.  The truffles are actually the "fruit" of other fungi that grow in relation to the trees.  There are many species of truffle, but some of them are highly sought-after for their use in culinary applications.  The truffle has a truly unique, powerful taste.  It is rare compared to more simple mushrooms, and due to its rarity and its coveted nature, it is one of the most expensive cooking products in the world.  However, if you are able to experience the taste of the truffle, you will understand why.


In search of the truffle:
Various species of truffle are found throughout most seasons, wherever trees are to be found
They are found at the interface between the organic layer and the mineral layer
of the soil, ranging one to six inches beneath the top layer soil
The female pig is a common choice in many areas to aid in the search
Many of the gourmet edibles, such as the French Périgord, French white, and Oregon white, produce a scent that mimics a male pig sex hormone that resides in the male pig's saliva, to which the sow is attracted
The use of trained dogs for this purpose have become the preferred truffle hunting companion,
as pigs are likely to eat the truffles once they find them, while dogs can be trained otherwise

A few species of the culinary truffle:
Oregon white truffle -Tuber oregonense
Common in  Pacific Northwest from the west side of the Cascade mountains to the coast from British Columbia to northern California
This white truffle is generally found from October through February
Off white when young, developing to an orange/brown once mature
Oregon white truffle -Tuber gibbosum
This variety is usually found from February through June
This version also starts off white, developing to an olive/brown once mature
They both have a firm texture and a marbles smoky interior once mature

Oregon brown truffle -Leucangium brunneum
This species is found to  grow in younger Douglas fir forests in the Oregon Coast
and western foothills of the Cascades
It has a red/brown exterior and a greyish mottled interior.
Once mature they exude an garlic-like scent

Oregon black truffle -Leucangium carthusianum
The Oregon blacks truffles are larger than their white counterparts
They are often much deeper in the soil than Oregon whites, four to ten inches beneath the top soil
They are quite dark inside and out, and have an earthy odor when when mature

French black  truffle-Périgord Tuber melanosporum
Found in the oak forests of the Périgord region of central and southwest France
The French black is widely cultivated in Spain, Australia, and the United States.
The black Périgord is among the most valuable of truffles
It has a blue-black exterior when young, fading to brown-black with maturity
They have a pungent, earthy odor

Italian white truffle-Piedmont Tuber magnatum
Considered by the French to be second best only to the French black truffles
Found in the foothills and mountains of northern and central Italy and southern Yugoslavia
In surrounding areas of the oak, hazel, and beech tree
 The exterior is a beige when it is young, becoming a darker brown once mature
The interior is solid, fair in color, and quite brittle
The white truffle is  more perishable than the darker variety, loosing flavor within a week or so from harvesting

Summer truffle -Tuber aestivum
Found in France, Italy, and Spain, the summer truffles are usually at their best in July, but can be found from May to October
They have a rich black exterior and off white interior, and have a softer aroma than most species of truffle

Tuscan truffle -Tuber borchii
These have  a chestnut brown exterior and a softer interior, colored brown and white
Anther species that exude an garlic like sent

Chinese truffles -Tuber sinense
Found in South China
The exterior is dark brown with a brown veined interior
These are more reasonably priced than other species of truffle
However the have a far less pronounced flavor and aroma

White vs. Black
The black truffle has a refined, earthy flavor.  They can be found in sizes similar to white truffles, but are much more common, and have a less-intense truffle flavor.
White truffles are the most coveted of all.  White truffles have a very powerful flavor, and are far more aromatic than their black counterparts.
Either truffle may be found from sizes around that of a walnut, to those around the size of an orange.  In some cases, even larger truffles may be found.  Extraordinarily large truffles are highly-coveted, and connoisseurs will pay top dollar for them.
If you want to buy fresh truffles, expect to pay a few hundred hundred to over a thousand dollars per pound for black ones (depending on variety), and a few thousand per pound for white ones (Alba whites, the most coveted of all truffles, will probably cost you about $4,000 per pound).

The coveted culinary truffle:
Truffles are generally used raw or very lightly sautéed
They are used to enhance a variety of dishes and sauces
Another culinary use, is to permeate other uncooked foods, such as rice
Truffles may be found  fresh, frozen, or preserved in oil

Truffle Oil
Truffle oils are a great, less-expensive way to impart a rich truffle flavor in your food, without spending the big bucks on a whole truffle.
Real truffle oil is infused with truffle.  However, in the United States, most truffle oils you find will actually be olive oils that have been been flavored with dithiapentane, which adds a truffle-like flavor.  While high-quality oils will still taste great, they are not strictly "truffle" oils.
For information on purchasing real truffle oil, check out Sabatino Truffles.

Other Specialty Products
There are many other specialty food products you may find that use truffles for flavor.  For instance, look in your local gourmet cheese store for cheese with pieces of truffle, and you will be amazed at the wonderful flavor the truffles impart to the cheese.
Anywhere you may find them, truffles are sure to take center stage!

Interesting Fact:
Did you know that the largest truffle ever purchased was a 3.3 pound white truffle that went for a wallet-shattering $330,000!

We would like to take a moment to give a special thanks to our readers.  We have had a lot of traffic for only being around two months, and we appreciate that anyone cares enough to read what we are writing!  If you have any ideas, comments, or thoughts, please feel free to comment on any post, or send us an e-mail to Suggestions@TheArdentEpicure.com!

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